Learn English Easily – Part 01 – Hard Or Hardly

Hard or Hardly

This is the very first part of a new fun learning series –  Learn English Easily.

It is a series that aims to make learning English fun for people who are preparing for government exams. So, without any further adieu let us get down to it.

Hard or hardly?

Before we start, take a test of yourself, try on your own.

Is it correct to say: I worked very hardly for my examination last month…???

Okay let’s check this one out: we ought to respect this hardly won freedom, says the prime minister.

Hmm, the last one, can you see the subtle difference between these two?

he works very hard/ he works hardly…?

If you think there is nothing wrong with the first two sentences, this blog is for you.

Let me tell you both the sentences are incorrect and according to correct English grammatical rules we are to use ‘Hard’ instead of ‘hardly’ in the above sentences.

These two words look very similar but are contrary to each other. It has been a confusion among almost all of us from time immemorial. Today let’s solve this hanging fire.


‘Hard’ is both an adjective as well as an adverb and it is a positive word. It has basically two meanings. The first one is used to qualify something which is stiff and rigid and cannot be broken easily.


  • He fell on the hard floor and broke his leg.
  • Hard glasses are preferred on the window pane for protection.
  • The teacher instructed the student to place the paper on a hard desk and write.
  • Her father was a hard man.
  • And the famous idiom: a hard nut to crack.

Hard can also be used to say something which is difficult to be conquered, it can be a war, puzzle, an achievement in one’s life, etc.


  • He had been trained in a hard school, so he was not afraid.
  • This campaign can be said to the hard one for the cavalry.
  • The poor woman had to suffer from fever due to hard winter and lack of money.
  • Usually, the questions asked in the competitive exams of the public service commission are very hard.


First of all, you should know that the word ‘hardly’ is a negative word. Unlike ‘hard’ this word is only an adverb and not any adjective. It has completely different meaning from hard. We can say hardly means ‘almost not’. We can use this adverb to express annoyance at a statement that we disagree with.

Let’s take a few examples to make it clearer.

  • “they all thought you were marvelous!”-“well, Hardly.”
  • We hardly know each other.
  • I hardly slept in three days.
  • His own fate was terrible enough, though he hardly thought of that.
  • Though he met with an accident, he hardly got any injuries.
  • My garden is filled with so many butterflies that I can hardly see the flowers.
  • I have not watched the full movie, so I hardly can comment on it.

Note that sometimes we use ‘hardly’ with some modals like ‘can/could’

  • The food in this hotel is so terrible that one can hardly eat it.
  • Heidi could hardly wait to bring the old woman the good news.

The antonym of ‘hardly’ is ‘frequently.

We usually say hardly with ‘any, anyone, anything, anywhere’

  • I hardly ate anything because I didn’t feel hungry.

I am sure now you can answer:

I tried______ to remember her name but I couldn’t. (hard/hardly).

By the end of the blog we have a phrase tip for you,

What is ‘Hardly ever’?

The phrase ‘hardly ever’ can be said as equivalent to ‘almost never’.

  • You are fat because you hardly ever go out to play.
  • I like being at home on Sundays, I hardly ever go movies.

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Have a nice day 🙂

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